Greek Cypriot drivers fill up in north as prices soar
Greek Cypriots are flocking to Turkish Cyprus to take advantage of lower tax on gasoline and higher value of Euro.
“My salary is only 700 euros [$680] monthly,” said Fanourios Michail, a 60-year-old carpenter waiting at a Nicosia crossing. “I save about 200 euros a month by refueling in the north.”
South Cyprus, the European Union’s easternmost member, uses the euro, while the Turkish Cypriots use the Turkish Lira. The north also has much lower taxes on fuel.
According to police figures collated between January and August this year and compared with 2021, the number of cars going north through one of the island’s vehicle crossings has more than tripled from nearly 200,000 to over 600,000.
“Half of my customers are now Greek Cypriots, representing half of my turnover,” said Turkish Cypriot Mehmet Tel, who runs a petrol station about 500 meters from one of Nicosia’s crossing points.
A liter of fuel in the north is about 25 percent cheaper than in the south.
Christodoulos Christodoulou, spokesman for the association of petrol station owners in the south, estimated their annual losses at seven million euros.
The rush for cheaper fuel in the north also costs the republic 80 million euros in lost tax revenues every year, he said.
“We want this illegal activity stopped.”
He accused the government of failing to enforce regulations put in place in 2004 when Cyprus joined the EU to regulate the transfer of goods across the Green Line separating the two sides of the island.